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Project push to end land lethargy - Govt sleeps on synchrotron but Saha institute goes ahead with plans

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  • Published 17.06.13

The Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics is signing collaboration agreements and hiring aggressively in preparation for building the world’s fifth high-energy synchrotron in Bengal, it’s sense of urgency contrasting sharply with the government’s lethargy on land.

The last time the institute had heard from the Mamata Banerjee government about the required 100 acres was in December. The communiqué stated that an eight-member committee would choose from among four potential sites in Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum and Kalyani.

The Saha institute promptly nominated four members to the committee but the government hasn’t chosen its representatives in six months.

“Things are moving very slowly on the land front. I guess this is the pace at which things happen here. I hope something positive will turn up in the three years that we need for capacity-building. If it doesn’t by then, we will have to build the synchrotron elsewhere,” the institute’s director, Milan K. Sanyal, said.

Metro has been highlighting since June last year how Bengal risks losing the Rs 6,000-crore project because of the government’s failure to provide land. If there has been one step forward, it is the Saha institute’s capacity-building programme for the project-in-waiting.

“My priority now is capacity-building so that we are technically well-poised before implementing this mega-science project for the first time in India. The chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, R.K. Sinha, has formed an apex committee on accelerator science and technology,” Sanyal said on the sidelines of the founder’s day programme of the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre at the SINP auditorium on Sunday.

The committee first met in Mumbai on May 8, where Sanyal was asked to submit a roadmap for nuclear science research. In its next meeting, the committee is due to discuss how to implement the proposed accelerators. “We have already entered into collaborative agreements with the four international synchrotron centres,” Sanyal said.

The Saha institute has also gone cherry-picking abroad to form a crack team. “We are being very aggressive about hiring back people from abroad. We have already recruited 25 people, including from Max Planc, Harvard and the University of California,” director Sanyal said.

The first laboratory for the proposed Indian Synchrotron for Materials and Energy Research will be on SINP’s Rajarhat campus. The Department of Atomic Energy has sanctioned Rs 40 crore for it.